Welcome to The Safe Library: Dr. Albrecht's Library 2.0 Service, Safety, and Security Resources

Our Library 2.0 "Safe Library" training programs for library staffers and leaders cover service, security, safety, supervision, and even a little stress management. Our goal is to help to keep all library employees physically and psychologically safe, making it easier for them to serve all patrons in their facilities.

Dr. Albrecht's podcast recordings and feed are to the right, and following immediately below that is a full list of his blog posts. A full list of paid webinars is to the left.


May 9th, 2024


Dr. Albrecht's blog posts are below. One of the features of his blog is "ASK DR. STEVE," where readers submit questions and he answers them. To submit a question for Dr. Steve, please email askdrsteve@library20.com.

By Dr. Steve Albrecht

The American Management Association is the oldest training company in the US. It was founded in 1926 and has trained over 10 million people. Of the 160 business seminars it offers, for business owners, leaders, managers, and first-line supervisors, the most popular learning program is a two-day workshop called "Fundamentals of Finance and Accounting for Non-Financial Managers." 

This program is not popular because it's the easiest to attend or the shortest (others don't require nightly homework like it does and are usually three or four days in length). It's popular because it's the most necessary training for business success for current and future leaders. To help you promote in your career as a library leader, you must be able to "speak the language of business," which is about understanding budgets, monitoring spending, understanding payroll costs for existing or future staffing levels, controlling costs, allocating assets, counting inventory, and knowing how to read and interpret the often interrelated financial reports.

As a library employee wanting to move into a supervisory, management, or leadership role, it's critical for your success to acquire a knowledge of basic financial statements; understand the "Accrual Process," the "Accounting Equation," and what "Generally Accepted Accounting Principles" means; understand liquidity, leverage, and profitability through understanding cash flow; calculate fixed, variable, overhead costs, and a break-even analysis; be able to read, interpret, and explain a Balance Sheet and Income Statement; understand operating and capital expenditure budgets; understand employee and payroll tax reporting requirements; and know how and why to measure the Return on Investment for departments, projects, and strategic plans. 

And speaking of budgets and their importance, I contacted my (far wiser) colleagues for their advice on getting a better handle on public agency budgets:

"Get in good with your Finance Director and get some simple explanations of how your particular library's budget process works. Get their help to move money around if you've over/under spent in certain areas."


"Budgets offer an opportunity to set goals for the organization with a spending plan. The budget is a guide. It doesn't mean there won't be exceptions. It has to be realistic from the beginning, i.e., because you want to spend $xxx, you can't just say revenue is going to be $xxx. It's a tool to help management understand both the revenues stream(s) and expenses of the organization, and which expenses are fixed and which are variable."


"When we think of budgets or budgeting for work, we often think we must have some sort of financial background or that the `finance person' will or should be the one to set and monitor the budget. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Managers and supervisors need to know how to establish, use, and defend their budgets. Begin with the end in mind. I still love this phrase from Steven Covey and it applies to budgets: '1) Know where you want to go, 2) What you need to accomplish and 3) How much it will take to get you there.' In other words, a budget is that road map that you set in the beginning with the end in mind. Knowing this information, keeps your program running and your staff employed."


"Understanding funding sources. It's likely the majority of funding comes from General Fund sources (versus Revenues) and therefore is subject to the approval of Public Officials (usually the City Manager or County Administrator, then the Mayor and Council). Does your city or county have a one-year or two-year budgeting process? There is not any latitude to change funding allocations throughout the budgeting cycle unless you're able to reallocate within your approved budget, so you have to anticipate needs. Think strategically and long-term. Big items like Capital Improvement projects must be planned for many years out. Foundation support (like the Friends of Library) is where special projects and discretion may provide additional funding to get non-budgeted items. Maintaining public support and having advocates who will fundraise from a non-profit perspective and people to write letters or speak at public comment during budget hearings can 'save' or raise the importance of library initiatives as a City Manager or County Administrator tries to balance the needs of all City or County departments. It's important for them to share the reality of the public budgeting process to encourage staff to be fiscally prudent. The majority of a budget will go to personnel-related expenses so there is little discretion 'to find extra money to spend.' Salary savings from open positions are usually available for departments to spend, depending on the spending philosophy of the City Manager or County Administrator."


"Know your library's part of the overall budget expectation. How did the budget pan out for last year? On the nose, under, or over? How are budgets determined? Do you have a say in your budget needs? How is the budget matched to the department's needs? Once you determine your department needs have you involved your team in finding ways to improve the department? Once you've empowered the team to help drive the department goals, you can look for innovative ways to close the gaps. You can determine the costs of improvements and team investments and forecast by monthly milestones. Measure the team's success in milestones and forecasts and reassess and adjust by mentoring your team. The real key is to know the mission, assess the team's ability to get ahead of the mission, and determine the investment needed for team growth within the department's role in the overall mission. Success comes from the innovation of empowered employees that feel valued in the organization's mission."


"Budgeting helps to track (and control) actual expenses and future expenses as well. Set a budget based upon fixed costs and revenue (income). Do it for each month, anticipating additional expenditures over and above fixed costs. Control your discretionary spending and live within your budget limits. Make staff additions with the budget in mind."


"Budgets are a forecast and recognize that many expenses are variable and as such a function of revenue. Use the budget as a benchmark to measure variations from the forecast and expose potential problems. If revenues exceed the budget, then your variable expenses should follow suit. If revenues drop, variable expenses should drop also. Non-profits like libraries require budgets to provide blanket board approval for expenditures by the management. While we may also use the budget to benchmark performance, we're primarily using it as a preauthorization to spend funds within the limits of the budget. Budgets should be built around staffing requirements (how many people, of what job description/pay rate are required for each shift). Include adding hours to accommodate an unanticipated peak period or subtract hours during less peak hours. Another rookie mistake: accidental overtime. Overtime results in premium pay (1.5 to 2x the original rate of pay). Similarly, if breaks or lunches aren't taken on time, then premiums or penalties must be paid. All of these things create the potential to overspend the budget. Tight control of the  breaks and lunches, and careful scheduling can help avoid these penalties and premiums."

There are lots of approaches to improving your financial literacy, using either online courses from training companies that specialize in one-day or multi-day seminars; local or online college and university classes, extension courses, or certificate programs; or through self-study programs offered by financial education non-profits or associations. Ask for mentoring from the financial professionals in your library, city, or county. Get directions, a lesson plan, and supportive career guidance from your Chief Financial Officer, Finance Director, Finance Manager, Budget Director, or similar experts. They recognize the value of the data they create and interpret; they will want you to appreciate it just as much.

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  • Very nice post.  If you work in a non-profit that is somewhat or heavily dependent on endowment, it behooves you to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the various funds and how they are allowed to function.  Some will be only for staff, some only for equipment, some only for special kinds of purchases, etc.  In this case, budgeting takes on the semblance of juggling the various funds.

    Probably out of fear of alientating readers, the post did not mention when trouble strikes.  The financial collapse of 2008 was an excellent lesson in how everyone had to suddenly prepare for a drop in endowments and a drop in donations.

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Dr. Steve Albrecht

Since 2000, Dr. Steve Albrecht has trained thousands of library employees in 28+ states, live and online, in service, safety, and security. His programs are fast, entertaining, and provide tools that can be put to use immediately in the library workspace with all types of patrons.

In 2015, the ALA published his book, Library Security: Better Communication, Safer Facilities. His new book, The Safe Library: Keeping Users, Staff, and Collections Secure, was just published by Rowman & Littlefield.

Steve holds a doctoral degree in Business Administration (D.B.A.), an M.A. in Security Management, a B.A. in English, and a B.S. in Psychology. He is board-certified in HR, security management, employee coaching, and threat assessment.

He has written 25 books on business, security, and leadership topics. He lives in Springfield, Missouri, with six dogs and two cats.

More on The Safe Library at thesafelibrary.com. Follow on X (Twitter) at @thesafelibrary and on YouTube @thesafelibrary. Dr. Albrecht's professional website is drstevealbrecht.com.

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Praise for Dr. Albrecht

"Thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you for presenting at our staff development day. Our staff has expressed their appreciation for the information and tools you provided. We know the lessons learned will be useful in our day-to-day work. It was a pleasure to have you with us -- even if it was only virtually." - Athens, GA Library

"I wanted to thank you for the session. My husband was listening from the other room and said, 'Wow, that was great!' This was the best library workshop I've been to, and I've been to a lot! The staff was saying the same in emails." - Emily from MI

"Your suggestions of what to say to challenging patrons will really help me once we allow patrons back into the library. Thanks!" - Lori from IL

"Not only have I learned incredibly valuable skills to use in my career as a public librarian, those lessons will have a ripple effect as I teach a course on Social Crisis Management... I always give Dr. Albrecht the credit in the portions of my lecture and presentation.  And have first hand experiences using these lessons to support his approach. Thanks again for lending your expertise to ensure that as librarians we can remain safe, keep our customers safe and still deliver on our mission and the meaningful work we do each day." - Jen 

"You helped to keep my brain from turning into mush during this long time off. Thank you!" - C. from MO

"I was able to view Library Safety and Security and Interacting with the Homeless. I learned so much and appreciate the education you offered.  I became aware of changes, large and small that I can make in my life to enhance how I interact with all people. I do hope our library offers your classes in the future because I did not view all the webinars that I wanted to and I am sure my coworkers feel the same. Thank you again." - Vicki from VA

"I wanted to send you a note of thanks for your webinars... I watched 5 of them and found them to be incredibly informative. Currently I am working with my library's director to put together a situation response manual for safety and security matters that apply to our own library... What you have shared has been very useful to help set up some guidelines and decide a good direction for training within our organization. Thank you so much for sharing your insights." - Jennifer from IN

"Thank you for the great content. I appreciate it." - Carmen from MT

"[I] found [your webinars] extremely helpful and informative. Thanks again and stay safe!" - Christine from PA

"I remember when you came to our Annual Employee Training Session and presented a terrific class. I was able to view all of your webinars during this time and I learned so much. Your generosity of spirit during this pandemic is truly appreciated and your kindness will be remembered. Thanks again and Cheers." - Bernadette from CA

"We have watched a couple of [your webinars] in the past and they always provide a great approach to issues that are becoming more and more common in public libraries." - Rod from TX

"Your webinars were educational and inspiring." - Karen from GA

"I have recently watched all your webinars... (this begins to sound like a groupie saying, "I have all your records!") and I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from them. They were probably the best work at home professional development material I encountered in the two months my library has been closed. I've worked in public libraries since 1988 and everything you said makes sense in my experience. I look forward to putting what I learned from your webinars to use when we eventually reopen to the people the library exists for. Many thanks!" - Barbara from BC Canada

"I've learned a lot from your diverse offerings as I knew that I would. I listened to 4 of your webinars at this run. I also attended your talk last year at one of our branch libraries. I hope that your presentations remain in my mind and that your practical, philosophical and respectful methods of engagement can be brought forth in times of need." - Deborah from CA

"We don't always take the time to do online courses or participate in webinars because of time and money restraints. We have been lucky to have the time now to take advantage of these opportunities. Your webinars really pack a lot of info in the time allotted. Your observations and surveys conducted with staff across the country made this applicable and the reality. Many of the situations described sound like our day to day interactions with patrons. Again thank you so much for these valuable webinars. I hope we will be open soon and able to put your tips into practice." - Kathy from MD

"I’ve really enjoyed all of your webinars, especially the ones about security and challenging patrons, and I’ve gained some useful knowledge that I can utilize at my library. I hope you have a wonderful day! Thanks again!" - Deborah from OH

"You're the best of the best." - Nick from CA

"I have found your webinars especially helpful during this time of stay-at-home orders and the inability to report to work for my daily schedule. (My branch is closed indefinitely.) I have especially found "Interacting with the Homeless" and "Stress Management for Library Staff" as the most help to date. I have been doing daily meditation as a stress reliever and taking time to find happiness despite all that is taking place in this world.... having this opportunity to listen to your thought-processes is very invigorating and life-changing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart." - Danielle from MD

"[Y]ou've expanded our minds and helped us greatly with your generosity. Thank you for all that you do, I appreciate it immensely." - Valerie from TX

"Thank you very much for your work and very good webinar." - Donna from IN

"I appreciate your vast knowledge on patrons and safety situations." - Mary from IL

"I've long wanted to explore your work, and have enjoyed and learned from 4 of your webinars so far, with plans to view them all. They are excellent! I am charged with leading our staff around issues of safety and security in our rural system, and you are a clear and dynamic voice in our field. I really appreciate your experience, knowledge, and presentation style, down to talking fast to get the most information into the time of the presentation! Hopefully, I'll be able to obtain the new edition of your book soon, as I hope to keep these themes as relevant currents for the duration of my career." - Kimberlee from CA


"Thank you for your wonderful `Safety and Security in the Library' presentation. I so appreciate that you were able to join us virtually this year and share your knowledge on these topics with our library staff. I look forward to exploring some of the resources you shared with us."

"Thanks so much for recording the presentation. It was fantastic!"

"Thank you, Dr Steve, for your presentation today. It was very helpful and insightful. Your subtle humor also lightened the mood."

"I wanted to reach out and thank you for all the information that you gave in your webinar on conducting a library facility security assessment."





Watch Dr. Steve Albrecht on video and onstage, as he presents his safety and security workshop, "Dealing With Challenging Patrons" to a live library audience. 45 minutes for unlimited staff showings at a one-time $495 fee or included in any all-access pass program.